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(Pocket-lint) - Days after Facebook announced its version of a metaverse, Microsoft has announced it is building a metaverse inside Teams - complete with virtual spaces and animated avatars.

A metaverse is essentially a digital world filled with digital twins of people, places, and things. It's a version of the internet where avatars of people can virtually gather to communicate, collaborate, and share across any device. Microsoft's metaverse environment for Teams uses the "Mesh" platform. It's all designed to leverage Microsoft's mixed reality efforts and HoloLens technology so that anyone can video calls in virtual spaces using animated avatars.

At Ignite 2021, Microsoft made Mesh seem like the future of Teams.

In fact, starting in 2022, Teams will help reduce the fatigue of having to be on video calls all day. Microsoft has imagined virtual spaces inside Teams, where you can work on projects or even play games using Microsoft apps - but with animated avatars. That way, you can join in without having to actually turn on your webcam when you're not feeling like it. Microsoft said it's even using artificial intelligence to detect your vocal cues and animate your avatar. 

Interestingly, you shouldn't need a VR headset to see and use avatars in Teams.

Although they are obviously optimised for use with a VR headset or AR headset, avatars in Teams are supposed to work in both regular 2D and 3D meetings. Basically, because of Microsoft Mesh, the virtual spaces and animated avatars in Teams should be accessible from multiple types of devices.

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on 3 November 2021.